7 Biggest Networking Myths & Facts

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The real issue about networking is that it’s easy to convince yourself not to do it. There will always be an excuse, argument or urban legend you can use to justify your lack of success. Which of these myths have you embraced?

Myth #1: Networking doesn’t work for me, my product, my service.
The networking process works for just about everyone, every product and every service because it focuses on a relationship. Relationships are the core of business success. Networking for results, as a business strategy, is still the single most effective way to build your business because it takes advantage of the natural process of human inter-action. Either building on existing relationships or as a starting point for new relationships, networking is one of the most powerful tools to develop your business or your career.

Myth #2: Networking is easy.
Nothing of value is ever easy. Every worthwhile endeavor requires awareness, skill and practice. Because being successful at networking involves increased understanding of human interaction, selling/relationship skills and business strategy. It’s a developmental process. Networking for results is a continuous learning process of evaluating what is working, what is not working and finding alternatives that improve results.

Myth #3: Networking success is immediate.
There is a misconception that business should flow immediately upon meeting a new person. One fifteen- to thirty-second conversation will rarely bring immediate results. When was the last time you agreed to pay money for a product or service after meeting someone at a luncheon? Financial investments take a long time to mature and pay dividends but when they do, the payback is usually much higher than the initial commitment. Networking is no different. Networking for results means recognizing that relationships require time and effort to build trust and respect.

Myth #4: Networking is about pushing product.
Networking involves a business perspective. The most successful salespeople realize that selling is a people business, not a product business. They know that people buy people first, ideas second and things last. Networking for results focuses on developing relationships through a sincere interest in helping others. Once people feel comfortable with you, they will listen to your ideas and want to hear about your product or service.

Myth #5: Networking is handing out business cards.
Handing out 35 business cards at a business meeting will rarely get your telephone ringing. In fact, most business cards are thrown out. Handing out business cards is not effective networking. The practise of handing out a business card is only effective when people can relate it to you. Networking for results means focusing on meeting a small number of people who will ask for your card because they perceive a need or benefit.

Myth #6: Networking is meeting as many people as possible.
The quantity of people we meet at a networking function usually is in direct proportion to our ability to do business. Meeting fewer people means taking time to get to know who they are, what they do and what their pain and passions are. Networking for results means understanding that selling is a one-on-one activity and focuses on getting an intimate knowledge of a few individuals to find ways to help them.

Myth #7: Networking is attending as many events as possible.
Networking works best with a strategic approach. Your credibility grows faster within a group than across groups. Joining fewer groups, even just one, and committing to it will always deliver more results faster. As members become more aware of your professionalism, integrity and value, they will be happy to buy from you or refer you.

Want more and better results from your networking efforts? Visit www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of my 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Process today.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and have him share his powerful and practical message and your next meeting or conference, email him at info@NetworkingForResults.com

 

 

 

 

 

The 4 Cornerstones of Business Success

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In order for your business to succeed, it’s essential that you have an understanding of, and an appreciation for, the fundamentals of business. Having a passion about an idea is not enough. In fact, unbridled passion is one of the primary factors that can contribute to the premature demise of your business .

Successful entrepreneurs have been documenting the reasons for their positive results for hundreds of years. Adhering to these proven and yet time-tested business principles will not only guarantee your success, they will dramatically accelerate it. Adhere to these four cornerstones of business success:

The purpose of a business. One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is to presume the ultimate purpose of their business. It’s NOT about sales. It’s NOT about profits. It’s Not about customer service, competition or collaborating with others. The singular purpose of a business, as defined by Peter Drucker, world renowned business expert for over 50 years, is to create new customers. Your primary mission as an entrepreneur and business owner, from the time you rise in the morning to the time you lay your head on your pillow at night, is to create new customers. Without them, everything else is irrelevant.

Marketing. Once you open the doors of your business (literally or figuratively), you must get the message into the marketplace. Marketing is the entire process that takes a product or service from concept to client. It encompasses every aspect of your business’ operation; from research to design to testing to manufacturing to client service. The fundamental premise regarding marketing, as it relates to a small business owner, is that it really only about two things: visibility and value. The success of your enterprise rest primarily on your ability to gain visibility in the marketplace (with right audience) and demonstrate the value your products or services represent.

Selling. Nothing ever gets accomplished in a business until a product is sold. Selling is a requirement for the success of your enterprise. There is no one who can speak to your value better than you. You are you best and most effective selling resource. The entrepreneurial graveyard is filled with owners who fought this reality and tried to abdicate this task to others. You must lead the charge about the value you represent. One of your most important tasks is to master the art of selling. Without it, you are doomed to mediocrity or failure. This one area can do more to catapult you in the success you want and need than any other factor.

Relationships. Success in business and in life is all about relationships. Read the biography of any successful business professional or entrepreneur and you’ll find that she/he attributes the vast majority of accomplishments on the ability to build and leverage relationships. If you’ve embraced your entrepreneurial dream for the long term (and I’m sure you have), make sure you incorporate a long term perspective and implement a three-step approach to relationship-building: based on an unshakable foundation of trust, built on mutual value and fueled by contribution to the success of others.

What can you do to anchor these cornerstones?
• Be unwavering in your commitment to creating new customers.
• Continually create new opportunities to be more visible to your highest-value markets.
• Get better at selling. Your success depends on this more than anything else.
• Build relationships with a long term perspective.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience” at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

5 Guidelines to Maximize your Most Valuable Resource: Your Time.

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As an executive, business/sales professional or entrepreneur, your ability to manage and maximize the resources at your disposal will always dictate the success you achieve. This includes the people you come in contact with, the assets you have access to and, most of all, your personal productivity.

Time is a professional’s most valued and valuable resource. It is a constantly diminishing resource that is finite, measurable and unforgiving. Your ability to maximize its impact and minimize its constraints will dictate the results you achieve. Use these time management guidelines to increase your personal productivity:

Be prepared. A manager’s two important skills are to think and to plan. The more time you invest thinking about what’s important to success for both you and your enterprise, the more you will emphasize putting time and effort in those areas. In addition, the better your plan, the easier it will for you, and everyone else involved in your business environment, to know what activities will produce the highest return. A written plan is one of the most important time management tools you can create. Make it a point to think and plan every day.

Be strategic. Know the difference between being efficient and being effective. Being efficient is getting a lot done. Being effective, on the other hand, is ensuring that you get right things done to move your business  or career forward. Leadership, by its very nature, accepts there will never be enough time to get everything done. The key to professional success recognizes that focusing the most important and valuable tasks, and getting them accomplished, will always be enough. Your most questions should always be “what is the important thing I can do NOW to move my business or career forward?”

Be structured. As a business professional, especially in the early stages of your career or mandate, it’s common to get overwhelmed, then simply try to work harder as the tasks pile up. This strategy will only exacerbate the problem, adding anxiety and exhaustion to the mix. Develop the habit of creating a daily written task list and prioritizing each item relative to its importance and value to your personal and professional success. This will not only reinforce productive time use, it will also increase your confidence. If ever you feel uncertain or overwhelmed, simply find a quiet spot, and revise your list based on your current situation. This is one of the most powerful time management habits you can develop.

Be ruthless. Because you have accepted total responsible for your life, you are under constant time pressure. You must develop the skill and the discipline of being ruthless with your time while staying gracious with people. This is why being prepared, strategic and structured are important. They allow you to weigh a request for your time in the context of its value for you, your productivity and your professional outcomes. Accept that it will be necessary for you to say “no” to certain time requests. Prepare for this eventually by developing options that will minimize the negative impact. Replies like “looking at my schedule, I can’t see how I can do this”, or “check back with me tomorrow” can let you off the hook without damaging a relationship.

Be balanced. Entrepreneurship or management can be an all-consuming vocation. Before you know it, it can take over your life, sometimes at the expense of other equally-important life categories. Your life and your time require a holistic approach. The professional and personal areas of life are inter-dependent and inter-connected. Non-business areas like health, relationships and spirituality will always have an impact on your outcomes. For this reason, it is essential that you include all areas of your life in your time and priority management perspective.

The four cornerstones of effective time management.
1. Clarify your focus in your main life categories
2. Create a written plan that includes goals in all major life areas
3. Implement a daily prioritized action plan.
4. Review and revise your time management plan on an on-going basis.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him, or have him share his wealth of knowledge at your meeting or event, visit www.NetworkingForResults.com.

Networking Power Tips: Follow up – The Complete Recipe

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The majority of entrepreneurs and business readily admit that they don’t follow up. In fact, surveys have confirmed up to 90% of people don’t follow up after a networking interaction. Yet, without following up, the spark created by the conversation will wither and die. There are three key components to a pro-active approach in following up and each has a contribution to make to overall success.

1. Preparing for Follow Up Success.  In order to gain maximum return of your follow up strategy, it is possible and necessary for you to prepare some areas of your upcoming networking interaction. This will make it easier for you to manage and lead the relationship-building process. Review these tactics to ensure you are properly prepared for following up.
Prepare your attitude. Appreciating that others want to meet positive, enthusiastic people is a key ingredient to follow up success. Develop and maintain a positive attitude about meeting others. Be sincere about finding out more about them and actively pursue how you can be of service to them.
Clarify your focus. Continually clarify your focus about who you want to meet and how you can bring them value. This will be extremely helpful in knowing who to follow up with. It will also be useful in allowing others to be helpful to you in more ways.
Practice your communication. You can facilitate follow up by preparing and practicing different parts of a conversation. Have an effective positioning statement and review three questions you can ask others to stimulate conversation and immediately begin building the relationship.

2. Maximizing an Initial Contact. Every person you meet has the potential to help you. Your mission is to discover how, even if this is not always obvious during an initial conversation. It may be necessary to create the opportunity to meet again. Check the following techniques and see how you can create more follow up during your initial communication with others.
Have a follow-up plan. Presume from your first moment of contact that you will want to follow up with this person. As your conversation continues and a need or issue arises, you can use a piece of information gathered earlier in the discussion to create a follow up contact. Look for common issues: Many times a networking discussion will uncover issues or interests that are common to both parties. This is an excellent reason to suggest a follow up meeting to explore the topic in more depth.
Expand a point of view. We all have a point of view, especially on topics that are important to us. Discovering what your conversation partner feels strongly about will perhaps allow you to suggest a follow up meeting to find out even more.
Enjoyable conversation. Sometimes we meet others and there is a strong connection. Compatible personalities often develop a powerful synergy. When you feel this synergy, suggest a follow up meeting. No other reason is necessary.
Interest in product/service. We are all consumers. As the discussion progresses, you may develop an interest in the other person’s product or service. When this happens, a follow up meeting becomes a natural extension to the networking conversation.
Specific information. Every conversation contains opportunities to help others. You will often find that you may have information that can be helpful. Sharing this information or suggesting a follow up contact to pass it on are excellent strategies to meet again.
Offer help. Nothing has more impact than a concrete action. Watch and listen for the other person’s pain and passion. Then find a way to offer help in either area. Simply offering is powerful but actually contributing to others will almost guarantee a follow up contact.

3. Managing On-Going Contact. A follow up contact creates an excellent opportunity. It confirms that the other person has perceived a value in your initial contact, and sees a benefit to meeting or communicating with you again. This is the step in the relationship process that is mishandled by most sales and business professionals. When you create, or are offered a follow up contact, use the strategies listed below to make sure you maximize all the benefits possible from a pro-active approach.
Genuine appreciation. One of the most powerful ways to maximize a follow up contact is to demonstrate your sincere appreciation for the opportunity being offered by the other person. Too often we take for granted the precious gift of another person’s time. Make it a point to acknowledge how much you appreciate their investment.
First of many steps. Relationships take time to develop and nurture. They require an investment of time, effort and energy. This normally happens over an extended period of time. By seeing your current contact as part of an on-going process you will resist the temptation to push yourself onto the other person.
Sincere curiosity. There is nothing more flattering than someone who is sincerely curious. Actively demonstrating that you are interested in the other person is one of the most effective ways to build trust and solidify a relationship.
Outward focus. Many people mistakenly try to use follow up as an opportunity to find more ways to convince others about their product or service. Follow up is an active part of relationship-building. Make this step a meaningful component by becoming a better listener and asking more questions.
Value. Use every conversation to discover new areas of value, for both yourself and the other person. Once you have discovered an area of need or a source of concern, you have created an opportunity to bring value. Find a way to help them solve a specific problem or achieve particular objective. This is where you can demonstrate the difference in your character and make the relationship even stronger.
Next contact. Each meeting or communication with a contact is a precious and powerful vehicle. As you dialogue with others, evaluate the conversations to elicit information, needs and issues. You will discover that others will want to meet with you again. Use each contact as a stepping-stone to the next phase in the relationship process.

These three components work together to stimulate and support the relationship process. When they are done sequentially and concurrently they build trust, establish value and set the foundation for mutual contribution; the ultimate reward of this investment. Which of these areas do you need to improve in the 30 days to accelerate your networking results?


Michael Hughes is known as North Amerrica’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

12 Networking Hacks that Dramatically Drive Results.

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Networking is an activity that every professional is involved in, both formally and informally. How can you accelerate the results you want and need? Here are the top networking hacks you can use to help you minimize your effort and maximize your results.

1. Find the 5% that matter. Networking, in its purest form, is a strategic exercise. Knowing who to connect with allows you to zero in on the highest probability candidates for your product/service (about 5% of any network), allowing you to meet the right people by design as opposed to by default.

2. Be in the right circle. One of the biggest networking myths is that activity drives results. In reality, focus is the most effective factor in determining success. If you’re in the right network, you will eventually find people who want your product or service, even if networking isn’t your strength.

3. Use verbal judo. In martial arts, technique is more important than strength. It’s how a seemingly weak athlete can easily take down and submit a stronger opponent. You can do the same during a conversation by using “Tell me about…” It takes all the pressure off you and opens a conversational void most are happy to fill.

4. Cultivate this quality. One of the most powerful personal characteristics is sincere curiosity. It will separate you from the pack and help others perceive you as more personable and professional. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes intention, being in the moment and paying attention to a conversation partner.

5. Get the right ammo. Your key objective when networking is to get the other person’s contact info. It’s your most powerful ammunition to keep the relationship moving forward. Others anticipate and expect it, and will think you more professional for asking.

6. Find a link and leverage it. Even the briefest networking conversation can be converted into a relationship. All you need to do is listen better and ask more questions. Then, when you hear a topic or area that links you both, use it as a lever to re-connect and push the relationship forward.

7. Realize what others are really asking. Almost every networking conversation includes the question ”What do you do?” You need to realize that what the other person really wants to know is your value, not your life story. Prepare a 15-word elevator pitch that communicates your target market, primary benefit and the results you provide.

8. Cut to the chase. Most professionals have no idea how to communicate their value. Many will ramble incoherently about information that only confuses and annoys. You can bypass this whole issue by asking “Who are you looking to connect with?” It immediately unlocks the right info.

9. Eliminate the rejection factor. The single biggest business-related networking issue is failure to follow up. In fact, over 90% of professionals say they do no follow up (mostly due to fear of rejection). Minimize this effect by asking “Can I follow up?” before the conversation ends.

10. Shorten the leash. While networking can ignite a relationship, it cannot sustain one. On-going contact does that. That’s why following up is crucial. The sooner you re-connect with a conversation partner (ideally within 6-12 hours), the easier the relationship process will accelerate.

11. Hedge your bets. It is a fact that not every person you meet will do hire, refer or do business with you. However, if you can discover a way to contribute to their business life, they will remember you and work on your behalf. Use the five minute rule to help you take action when you see an opportunity to contribute: If it can be done in five minutes, do it now.

12. Take the long view. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Commit to growing a relationship for 90 days without expectation of reward. Then evaluate your situation and either re-commit or cut bait.

Remember: Networking is a skill-based activity. These twelve hacks can help you accelerate your networking success, but they also involve skills that take time to develop. Which one should you work on this week to drive your networking results?


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

Networking Power Tips: 9 Ways to Conclude a Networking Conversation

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So you made a good first impression, identified some common interests and agreed on follow-up. Now is the time to conclude the conversation in an effective way and move to new opportunities, but how do you accomplish this with professionalism and poise?

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that a networking conversation is really part of a process. They don’t accept that these interactions have a natural and normal conclusion, and that managing it effectively increases the impact with a conversation partner. Here are some practical, proven tips to maximize this important transition point.

1.Accept reality. Conversations end, just as life does. Very few people seem to know how or be comfortable with concluding a networking conversation. You can greatly help others by managing this portion of the process and making it easy for them.

2. Watch for signs. Usually there will be a lack of conversation or a loss of interest in the topic being discussed. When this happens, it means that the energy and enthusiasm of the contact is waning. Become more aware when this happens to better manage the process.

3. Decide to act. Recognizing that there is no further value to the conversation can be a signal to either re-stimulate the discussion or change conversation partners. Identifying this issue and taking positive action is both beneficial and necessary.

4. Consider your partner first. Although some situations allow for a quick exit, remember that it is bad manners to simply conclude a conversation, leaving the other person standing alone. Consider their feelings before using this tactic.

5. Summarize the discussion. When you see no further benefit for either party, you can summarize the conversation and indicate you want to move on. You can also at this point indicate that you wish to allow the other person to meet others.

6. Create a follow up opportunity. As the networking interaction ends, it is usually an excellent point to suggest a follow up opportunity, using an issue discussed earlier in the conversation and requesting a business card.

7. Thank the other person. One of the most important and overlooked parts of concluding a conversation is to take the time to thank the other person. This demonstrates integrity, respect and professionalism.

8. Expand the conversation. Sometimes it is just as beneficial to bring another person into the conversation. This allows a change in focus and can allow you to more easily move to another conversation without feeling you have abandoned the other person.

9. Change locations. If you don’t want to abandon your networking partner but want to create some new enthusiasm in your conversation, perhaps you can ask him or her to come with you to another location such as food table, or to join a larger group,

Successful networkers prepare for success. By creating and developing more options to conclude a conversation, you will be perceived as more professional and personable, which has a direct impact on trust and the relationship-building process. Do you have specific question about concluding a conversation? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

5 Networking Secrets that Leverage Centers of Influence

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We all have centers of influence. We know who they are and how they can affect our business, career or life. Yet, we continuously struggle to make the most of their power and potential.

One of the keys to maximizing centers of influence depends on how quickly, and how well, the relationship develops. Follow one or more of the strategies listed below to accelerate the process and reap the benefits these valuable relationships have to offer.

Focus on the process. Relationships follow a natural and defined process. It usually takes time and a certain number of contacts to feel comfortable with another person.
Instead of keying on the results you want, look to manage the process. There are six phases in the relationship-development process. By becoming more aware of them, you can have a direct impact on each. This is especially important when dealing with centers of influence who can offer major benefits.

Use a structure. We all lead busy lives with too much to do and too many people to keep track of. Discovering, developing and leveraging relationships with centers of influence is a priority as well as a critical success factor in business and in life. Using a specific structure to manage and track your highest-value relationships is a necessity. Develop a structure, either on paper or using technology, to keep the process moving forward for mutual benefit.

Be pro-active. We humans are social creatures. We are enamored with the relationship process. Too often, we rely on it to be self-directed. This can be enjoyable but does not help us achieve the results we want and need. Presume every conversation with a center of influence will require a follow up contact. Continually look for opportunities to confirm another meeting, create more value or bring an additional benefit.

Build trust. Trust is the single most powerful characteristic in a relationship. It is the foundation of every important relationship in your life. It can, by itself, be the stimulus to having others help you achieve your objectives. People perceive everything we do to be either for, or against, them. Discovering ways to demonstrate your trust in others, especially centers of influence, can have major effect on their willingness to help.

Clarify your objectives. You’re either working your plan, or you’re working someone else’s plan. One of the main reasons why others are not more helpful to us is that they are unclear as to how they can be of service. Evaluate each center of influence and clarify your needs from each .The more specific and selective you are, the easier you will make it for them to help you. This way, both of you will gain from the result.

Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. This can take weeks, months, or even years. Are you investing the right amount of tome effort and energy on these invaluable resources? I’ve spent the last 20 years building better relationships. If this is an area of concern or opportunity for you, contact me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. I can help.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

 

Networking Power Tips – Taking Charge of a Conversation

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Whether at a formal event or in an informal conversation, the axiom that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression holds true. How can you maximize the early stages of a networking  interaction for greater personal and professional impact? Here are some strategies to help you use this important relationship phase to build rapport, increase trust and engage your conversation partner.

Feel confident that others will like and accept you. It’s natural to feel anxious when meeting others. Yet, in reality, most people are just like you. They want to meet new friends and will be happy you chose them to speak with. Remind yourself of this every time you enter a networking function. In fact, you should take a few moments before arriving to create a positive mental attitude about meeting others. This alone can have a huge impact on your conversations.

Realize the stress on others. An initial contact is usually the most stressful time for most people. When you take charge of the conversation you help others by giving them a direction. This immediately reduces stress and anxiety. By taking responsibility for engaging your conversation partner, you immediately make the experience more pleasant and positive for her/him.

Play the host/hostess role. Have you ever hosted a party? How did you welcome new arrivals? By assuming a host/hostess mentality, you will tend to be more pro-active in engaging others. Introducing yourself and starting a conversation or introducing new arrivals to others all contribute to helping others feel more comfortable and enhance their feelings of trust about us.

Smile.  “The smile is the window to the soul”. When you smile you’re whole face lights up. It shows others you are a positive person. It attracts others and makes them feel comfortable around you. A sincere smile will always be your most powerful resource in demonstrating to others that you are personable. Use it more often.

Look the other person in the eye. Eye contact is a powerful and positive trust-building strategy. It demonstrates to others that they have our full attention and, on a deeper level, that we care enough to listen to their words. To maximize this technique, look into the other person’s eyes until you determine their color.

Introduce yourself. Most people have a brain-freeze moment when meeting an new conversation partner. Others just aren’t sure what to do. Taking the initiative to start the conversation gets the ball rolling and offers a specific starting point. Most people will respond with their name, and if they don’t, it’s almost natural to ask.

Offer your hand. The handshake is the only acceptable form of physical contact between two strangers in our society. Shaking hands is perceived as an act of friendship that dates back thousands of years. In addition, it creates a physical bond with the other person. This also gives the other person an action to perform, which reduces stress and anxiety.

Be aware of your body language. When we first meet another person, we read all their communication levels almost simultaneously as they do the same. Because networking is a high-stress activity, many people are prone to excessive gestures or words, sometie4ms without even being aware of it. Less body movement has more impact, projecting a sense of confidence. Fewer words have more impact. In both cases, less is more.

Recognize the impact of your voice.  The tone of your voice can have a major impact in making others feel at ease. Sounding gentle and sincere can greatly help to make your initial contact a positive experience for others. A softer tone of voice will always make you seem more personable and positive to others. It invites a cordial conversation and implies competence.

One size does not fit all. Although these suggestions are proven and practical, it’s imperative that you be aware that each conversation is unique and individual and must be customized to both your conversation partner the environment you are in. Today’s multi-cultural busies environment may mean that you need to adapt your strategy to accommodate the other person’s background or culture.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

Networking Power Tips- Guidelines to Joining Conversations.

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One of the most difficult networking challenges for some people is joining in an existing conversation. Check the guidelines below and use the four-step strategy to make this issue less stressful.

Appreciate group dynamics. A group represents a set of personalities who have determined a common reason for being together. To be accepted, it’s essential you respect and understand their environment.

Respect group size. Smaller groups, usually groups of two, tend to foster more intimate conversations while larger groups of three or more are normally more open and easier to access. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join a conversation between two people, only that you should be aware of their specific nature. Use group body language to help you identify when you can approach these small groups.

Observe body language. You’ll also notice that some groups stand closer together, almost forming a closed circle, while other groupings are looser and seem to leave an opening. The “semi-circle” groups usually indicate a more open environment and are easiest to join.

Use a Strategy. Joining a conversation can be a pleasant experience. Use the following four-step process to help you become part of any group conversation with minimal stress.
1. Approach: After observing group dynamics and deciding which group to join, slowly and confidently approach them. Stand on the edge of the group, either at the edge of the “semi-circle” or at the outside of the cluster and ease forward as others become accustomed to your presence.
2. Body language: Use eye contact, smile and nod to acknowledge each person you connect with. Keep body movements to a minimum. Pay attention to the conversation, focusing on each speaker to quickly become part of the group.
3. Feedback: Demonstrate active listening by leaning towards each speaker, offering positive feedback through comments and questions. This is an effective technique to have others feel more comfortable with you and build trust within the group.
4. Participate: When it’s appropriate, become more assertive in your participation in the group conversation. This usually happens when someone asks you a question pertaining either to the conversation or about you.

Be patient. Joining a group conversation is an opportunity to create and develop relationships. This is a process that takes, time effort and discipline. You can quickly and easily feel more at ease when joining a conversation if you are prepared to slow the process down and give others a chance to accept you at their own pace.


Michael Hughes is THE Networking Guru. Receive a FREE copy of his 13-page ebook Managing The Networking Process at www.NetworkingForResults.com

Networking Power Tips: 11 Networking Confidence Builders

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Does your blood pressure rise at the mere thought of attending a networking event? Are you nervous about carrying on conversations with new contacts? You’re not alone.

Many people have great difficulty simply meeting others. There can be any number of reasons for this, all of which are real. Here are some strategies to help you build your confidence about going to the next networking event.

1. Clarify your issue. Become more aware of why you have difficulty meeting others. Is it a lack of self-confidence? Are you uncomfortable because you feel you must use networking to “sell”? Are you simply unsure of what to do or say? By addressing the reason for your discomfort, you can improve how you deal with the situation.

2. Re-enforce the value. Accept that meeting others is one of the most effective ways to get more business or advance your career. By attending the event you will be giving others the opportunity to become more informed about you and your value. By increasing your sense of value you will feel more confident in meeting others.

3. Change your mindset. Emphasize the social aspect of networking rather than feeling you must find and qualify prospects or new career opportunities. Focus on making friends instead of doing business. This will take away a lot of your anxiety while giving you essentially the same results.

4. Set an objective. Once you have made the decision to attend a networking event, invest in setting a clear objective. This will help keep you focused as you meet and talk with others. It will also give you a basis for which to measure your networking success.

5. Prepare for success. If you know you have difficulty developing conversations, why not plan to reduce the chance of being in this situation. Meet up with a friend or bring along a colleague. You could also check with the host in advance to find out who else will be there (and create an important contact during the call).

6. Have a start-up strategy. Most conversations start the same way. Plan and practice the words and actions you will use until they become second nature. Here’s a simple structure for you: make eye contact, smile, offer your hand and introduce yourself. Practice this structure until it becomes a positive habit.

7. Go public. Tell others about your discomfort when you first meet them. You’ll find that many people feel the same way. Even if they don’t, they’ll usually go out of their way to help develop a conversation and you’ll feel better having shared this with them.

8. Shift the conversational focus. Sometimes the stress about meeting others comes from feeling we must carry the conversation. The most brilliant conversation partners are excellent listeners who ask the right questions. Strive to get others talking from the moment of contact. They will enjoy your company even more.

9. Have three questions to ask. Much of the stress we feel in meeting others comes from being unsure of what to say. Having questions ready that can act as conversation starters can reduce your anxiety as you make contact with another person. Every conversation has natural opportunities to ask about things like common issues, family or background.

10. Emphasize The “secret sauce.” The most powerful human bonding agent is context. When you steer the conversation into discovering areas of common interest, especially on a personal level, you accelerate your  sense of comfort and immediately feel more confident about yourself.

11. Develop your skills. Meeting others is part of your interpersonal skills tool kit. Everyone can develop these simple and effective skills. No matter what your level of confidence or competence, you can improve if you continually assess your performance and your results.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

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